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Reclamation Awards $11.8 Million Contract to Build Latest Portion of Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project

New Mexico firm earns contract as part of historic project to bring clean water to tribal and rural communities

Media Contact: Barry Longwell , (505) 324-5001, 09/09/2015 13:33

For Release: September 09, 2015

Bloomfield, N.M. – Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Estevan López today announced that Reclamation has awarded a $11.8 million construction contract to Meridian Contracting, Inc. for work to be done on Reach 22A, a portion of the massive, historic Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project in New Mexico.

Reach 22A, in San Juan County, will be the first reach of pipeline to be constructed by Reclamation at Cutter Dam, which is located approximately 20 miles from Bloomfield. Meridian Contracting is a small business enterprise located in Albuquerque.

When completed in the next decade, the overall Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project will consist of about 280 miles of pipeline, several pumping plants, and two water treatment plants providing a reliable municipal and industrial water supply from the San Juan River. It will serve a potential future population of 250,000 in the eastern section of the Navajo Nation, southwestern portion of the Jicarilla Apache Nation, and the city of Gallup, New Mexico. "The Navajo-Gallup project will have the capacity to deliver clean, safe drinking water to tribal and rural communities to a potential future population of approximately 250,000," said Commissioner López. "This contract is another important step in honoring U.S. commitments to Indian nations while providing lasting benefits for local economies and public health."

The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project is one of 14 high-priority infrastructure projects identified by the Obama Administration in October 2011 to be expedited through the permitting and environmental review process.

“The Navajo Nation supports the construction of this section of the Cutter Lateral as it represents the initial portion of the project that will receive San Juan River water by way of Cutter Reservoir that will be taken to several communities in the Eastern Navajo,” Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said. “The construction of this project brings anticipation of eventually receiving this critical water supply that is key for the health of our people and economic growth.”

The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project is the cornerstone of the historic Navajo Nation Water Rights Settlement Agreement in the San Juan River Basin, signed by the Department of the Interior, the Navajo Nation, and the State of New Mexico in December 2010. In addition to the Navajo Nation, project participants include the Jicarilla Apache Nation, the City of Gallup, and – in conjunction with Reclamation – the state of New Mexico, Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Indian Health Service.

Reach 22A will consist of 4.5 miles of 20-inch to 24-inch diameter pipeline and will have a capacity of 10.0 cubic-feet-per-second. It will connect to the Cutter Dam, a feature of the Navajo Indian Irrigation Project, and will eventually convey water downstream to Reach 22B and the Cutter Water Treatment Plant, once those features are complete.

It is anticipated that these facilities will be completed in 2019, at which time treated drinking water will be available to be delivered to the remainder of the Cutter Lateral through facilities completed by the Navajo Nation to several chapters in the southeastern part of the Navajo Reservation, as well as the southwestern portion of the Jicarilla Apache Reservation.

Key components of the construction contract include connection to the river outlet works at Cutter Dam and construction of approximately 4.5 miles of pipeline, including a crossing of Largo Wash by horizontal directional drilling.

The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project will serve areas that currently rely on a rapidly depleting groundwater supply that is of poor quality and inadequate to meet the current and future demands of more than 43 Navajo chapters, the city of Gallup, and the Teepee Junction area of the Jicarilla Apache Nation. Ground water levels for the city of Gallup have dropped approximately 200 feet over the past 10 years and more than 40 percent of Navajo Nation households rely on hauling water to meet their daily needs. Inadequate water supply also impacts the ability of the Jicarilla Apache people to live and work outside the reservation town of Dulce.

At the peak of construction, the Navajo-Gallup project itself will involve more than 600 jobs at numerous project sites. The project is one of 14 high-priority infrastructure projects identified by the Obama Administration in October 2011 to be expedited through the permitting and environmental review process. Construction of the overall project began in 2012, and is on schedule for completion in 2024.

The Bureau of Reclamation and Interior made a series of announcements about contracts and assistance related to the project. In 2012, $43 million of financial assistance enabled the Navajo Nation to complete the lower reaches of the Cutter Lateral -- one of two branches of the project. Reclamation is responsible for design and construction of the uppermost reach of the Cutter Lateral, including the Cutter Lateral Water Treatment Plant.

In today’s announcement, Reclamation estimates that this portion will take approximately 24 months to complete and will create more than 80 jobs.

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